The Daily Grind

Magic is a practical exercise. Like anything in life, you can study the theory behind it all you want, but you won’t get anywhere until you actually put things into practice. And like so many things — painting, drawing, music, running, weight lifting, writing, math, cooking, etc. — if you want to develop proficiency you need to do it on a regular basis. Unfortunately, that also seems to be the most difficult part of it. Continue reading

Goals for 2014

I keep saying that I’m not bog on the New Year’s resolution thing.

But I also recognize that this is a good opportunity to evaluate past goals and set new ones, especially since I did not do so on my birthday.

Bach in March, I set some goals for myself. In June I reviewed and revised them. Time to see where I’m at now. Continue reading

Witch Questions 2

2) How long have you been practicing witchcraft?

I am turning 36 years of age in about a month. I started getting into magic the summer after I turned 17. So that puts it at about 18 years, as of right now.

And I don’t consider what I do “witchcraft” per se, although there was a time when I did. And the magic I did back then was a bit different from what I do now. And a lot sloppier.

If anything, I’ll say that my magic now is more precise and specific. I don’t know about “better,” although I get better results now than I did then.  But more refined.

Magic and Heritage

This weekend at my place of employment, a coworker outed herself to me as a witch.

We had talked briefly about similar things at an earlier time, and she confirmed it by asking me a question. The wording itself was very peculiar to me, but she was essentially asking (or so I take it) if I am able to identify other magic-users.

It was the peculiar wording, however, that interested me. Because she put it in terms of bloodline.

I had to admit I didn’t know what she was talking about. That yes, I can usually tell if someone is magically inclined or attuned. (Not necessarily that they practice magic, but that they have the talent inherent. As Mike Sententia might say, their etherial muscles seem more naturally developed.) But she seemed to be referring to a specific tradition or lineage of teaching that I was not familiar with.

But the idea of magic being inherent to a bloodline intrigued me.

I am not a psychic. My magical abilities have been developed over time with practice. But I recognize that for whatever reason, that ability is easier for me to access and harness than it is for most people. That it is inherent to my being, whereas most people ignore it.

I’ve never liked the idea that only certain people can do magic. I think anyone can do it, but it simply comes more natural to some. Some people find it easier to stay fit and build muscle, while others struggle to loose weight and tone up. Sure, I could look like Vin Diesel, but I will have to work significantly harder at it than he does (and he works fairly hard at it) simply because my constitution is different. And I think the same is true with magical ability.

But I never thought of that as a heritable trait.

My mother has told me stories of her grandparents and great-grandparents. They came from Northern Italy, and from the way she described their dress, their music, and their customs sounded suspiciously Romani to me. My grandmother had what Joss Whedon might call a fragmented reality matrix, and was never quite grounded in the world around her. She had some very sharp lucid periods, though, where she seemed hyperaware of everything that was going on around her. In such moments she verged on prophecy, and on a few occasions she crossed that line.

My mother, devout Catholic that she is, has always been highly attuned to the people she cares about, and instantly knows if friends and family are in peril or crisis, usually contacting them first. Her visions of spirits that I was working with served more to assuage my fears of insanity from my early magical work more than anything else. My sister is also plagued by spirits and other entities, and has an intense interest in demonology and angelology. She frequently reports contact with deceased family and friends, some of which I have confirmed from my own experiences.

I am not a hereditary witch. My magic was learned independent from my family and its native Catholicism, and my paganism still faces opposition and resistance from some family members. But the talent is there. Cultivated or not, there is definitely a strong family history of occult and metaphysical abilities.

It runs in the family.

And I have heard stories from magic-using friends about many of their family histories being magically inclined as well. In many of these cases (as in my own), some members reject this ability and often appear to suffer for it. But the observations of others usually confirms that some of this ability is passed on genetically.

As I become more comfortable with Pete Carroll’s models, and the notion that magic is the result of physical phenomena, this doesn’t bother me much. But it flies against the egalitarian approach I had cultivated that anyone could learn magic.

But like any skill, anyone can. It just takes more effort for some and is easier for others. Certain magical techniques are extremely difficult for me and easy for others, and this may also be the result of a heritable predisposition.

It magic something that you’re born with? Yes. And no. It is a skill influenced and predisposed by genetic factors (somehow), but ultimately only developed and utilized through hard work, motivated study, and practice. Even Vin Diesel will get fat if he sits on his ass.

And does the apparent predisposition to magic and magical sensitivity make other better than those without it? Not inherently. It’s just easier for us to start out.

Intention In Magic

I’d been meaning to write about the role of intention in magic for some time, and it seems that two blog posts on the subject by well-respected magical authors has provided the fodder and motivation I needed.

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Christopher Penczak writes that while there is more to magic than intention, intention is important and necessary to successful magic. His approach is that intention must be augmented with technique in order to achieve results.

I do believe in the power of intention, of aligning your will with the will of the universe to manifest your magick. Without intention, you magick doesn’t seem to work, either in terms of tangible results or the more nebulous, but arguably more important, self development that can come from it. On any of the magickal paths, will is a requirement. In fact, when teaching about the basics of a spell, I teach that you must have three things: Clear Intention, Strength of Will, and a Method to Direct the Energy of the Spell. Will without clarity usually ends up backfiring, intention with no desire behind it is lackluster at best, and you can have both, but if you cannot direct the energy into the proper channels, through ritual technique and/or real world action, you will still lack results. You can even cause harm.

I disagree with Penczak’s three components of magic, but I’ll get into that more later. I am going to take the time to pick at Penczak’s use of terms here. Continue reading

Epiphany

Mike Sentetntia responds to an inquiry about that great “aha” moment that led him to practice magic.

I wish there were some epiphany I could package up for readers. Heck, I wish there was simply an amazing moment to tell you about, to inspire you to find your own epiphany. There never was for me, and I don’t think there is for most people.

Oh. Oops.

I can’t share my epiphany with you: I never had one. There was no moment, just 20 years of slow progress. Continue reading

The Between Place

I’ve been thinking a lot about the status of a magic-user as one of  “between worlds.” The liminality between the everyday “normal” world and the mysterious and weird world beyond the veil is a hallmark of magic and mysticism. We inhabit that between place, right on and sometimes just over the edge.

And I think that we have certain obligation because we exist at this liminal space. As I said not long ago:

Our role is to bring back knowledge from beyond the boundaries of the “normal.” Our role is to guide people who have approached or crossed those boundaries, then bring them back or push them further. And so you have to bring back what you encounter.

And I think this pretty well describes what I have seen from most magicians, witches, mystics, etc. and how they end up expressing their spiritual reality. In some way, they take advantage of inhabiting that liminal space, and at some point, they help others cope with their own experiences there.

But I’ve been dealing a lot with magic as augmenting my identity rather than defining it. Like a doctor doesn’t continuously heal people, or a pilot isn’t always flying, I have a life that isn’t always spent exploring the realms beyond. Continue reading